Sermon Illustrations

Christina recently gave birth to our first daughter. After three sons I am very pleased to have a little girl. Recently I was speaking to the academic dean of the seminary where I am pursuing doctoral studies. The school had asked for individual and family photos of students like me who are working by extension on their degrees, in an effort for staff to get to know the student body better. I emailed the family portrait that we had only taken a day before the schools request. In it 2 week old Felicity is smiling along with the rest of the family. It was amazing. She smiled just as the photo was taken, right along with the rest of us! I emailed that to the school along with the message, “Here is the proof that I really had a baby and needed to reschedule the weeklong course on campus that took place the very week in which she was born.” The reply from Dr. Stephens was appropriate. “How does your wife feel about you saying that here is the proof of the baby which you (I) had? Make sure you duck when you tell her what you said.” It was amazing that Felicity smiled right as the photo was taken. It was an amazing experience to be in the delivery room and watch my daughter come into the world. What is truly amazing, though, is the way that a woman’s great pain, anguish, near misery, that is incurred while giving birth completely vanishes the moment that the little baby is laid upon her chest. There is great pain in child birth. We come into this world in the most marvelously violent way.

Our salvation, reconciliation with God, has come to us at the highest cost. “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4)

The beauty of our salvation is rooted in the depth of its cost. The Lord’s victory over sin was born of suffering. Our ultimate purpose is to identify with Christ in His suffering and thereby receive the grace of God by faith in the one who was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquity.

The punishment that brought us peace was placed upon His shoulders. Dear saints of God our calling is to identify with His suffering by faith and having been consumed by the love which He showers us, serve the world in like fashion.

Our calling is to receive the overwhelming weight of grace, reflect it back to God in worship, and pass it along to others through acts of charity and the spreading of the Gospel message.

There are many willing to follow after a Jesus who promises to deliver gold plated luxury. There is no shortage of those who will accept a Christ who delivers only peace and prosperity. The first verse of our text is well translated “Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.” (Isaiah 52:13) The prosperity of the Suffering Servant is wisdom and salvation, not earthly treasure, comfort, or peace born of worldly security.

The text says that He will prosper and then in the very next verses says that He will be bruised beyond recognition, suffer, and that His blood shall sprinkle (cleanse) the nations. The prosperity of God in Christ is the salvation of the elect! It is the freedom from sin and reconciliation with God that comes through the grace of God according to the instrument of faith. Man’s prosperity: a Rolls Royce which one day shall rust. God’s prosperity: reconciliation with His creation, eternal worship which shall never end.

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